Bart the Bear
Bart the Bear with trainer Doug Seus, 1997
January 19, 1977|
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
May 10, 2000 (aged 23)|
Heber City, Utah, U.S.
|Resting place||Seus ranch, Heber City, Utah, U.S.|
|Owner||Doug and Lynne Seus|
|Weight||1,500 lb (680 kg)|
|Height||9 ft 6 in (290 cm)|
|Awards||Nominated, Academy Award, The Bear (1988)|
|Cause of death||Animal euthanasia|
Bart the Bear (January 19, 1977 – May 10, 2000) was a male Alaskan Kodiak bear actor best known for his numerous appearances in Hollywood films, including The Bear (for which he reportedly received an Oscar nomination), White Fang, Legends of the Fall, and The Edge. He was trained by animal trainers Doug and Lynne Seus of Wasatch Rocky Mountain Wildlife, Inc., in Heber City, Utah.
Bart was born on January 19, 1977, at the Baltimore Zoo. When Bart was five weeks old and weighed five pounds (2 kg), he was adopted by Doug and Lynne Seus, who worked as animal trainers for films. The Seuses trained Bart using a reward and praise system. While still a cub, he appeared in the TV series The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams playing Adams' companion bear, Ben, as a cub.
After reaching adulthood, he subsequently made his film debut in the film Windwalker (released 1981). He grew to 9' 6" (2.90 m) tall and weighed 1,500 pounds (680 kg) throughout his life as an adult.
Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Daryl Hannah, Annette Bening, Ethan Hawke, Steven Seagal, Tchéky Karyo, Brad Pitt, Alec Baldwin, Trevor Howard, and Anthony Hopkins all appeared in films opposite Bart. All of them were reportedly impressed with how well he was trained. Film directors Jean-Jacques Annaud and Lee Tamahori, both of whom directed Bart in The Bear and The Edge respectively, called Bart "The John Wayne of Bears".
Anthony Hopkins worked with Bart in two movies: Legends of the Fall and The Edge. According to Lynne Seus, "Tony Hopkins was absolutely brilliant with Bart...He acknowledged and respected him like a fellow actor. He would spend hours just looking at Bart and admiring him. He did so many of his own scenes with Bart." Film critic Kenneth Turan called Bart's performance in The Edge "the capstone of an illustrious career" and "a milestone in ursine acting."
Bart's greatest recognition came when he starred in the title role of Jean-Jacques Annaud's 1988 French film, The Bear, playing an adult grizzly bear who befriends an orphaned cub and defeats hunters. Annaud auditioned 50 bear actors from all over the world before selecting Bart for the role. In order to perform the role, Bart, trained by Seus, successfully learned several new routines and behaviors, including going against his natural abhorrence of a strange bear to accept the unrelated cub co-starring with him. Annaud remained impressed with Bart's performance even after being injured by Bart when Annaud, against trainers' orders, entered Bart's enclosure to pose for publicity photos. The Bear was a hit in both Europe and the United States, grossing over $31 million in the United States and over $100 million worldwide, and reportedly resulting in an Oscar nomination for Bart, which was unable to go forward because animal actors are precluded from receiving Academy Awards.
Bart was an ambassador for the Vital Ground Foundation, which procures threatened wildlife habitat along the Rocky Mountains, on Kodiak Island in Alaska, and in the Gobi Desert.
In October 1998, Bart was diagnosed with cancer, and later underwent surgery twice to remove tumors from his right paw. Cancer reoccurred, taking away his strength and appetite causing him to not want to take the pain medication, so he was euthanized on May 10, 2000, at the age of 23. He was buried on the Seus' ranch.
At the time of his death, he was filming the television documentary Growing Up Grizzly (2001) (also featuring Bart's namesake Little Bart), which was narrated by Brad Pitt, who had appeared with Bart in Legends of the Fall.
Bart the Bear 2, an unrelated Alaskan brown bear cub born in 2000 and adopted by Doug and Lynne Seus shortly before Bart's death, was named for Bart and has sometimes been called "Little Bart". Bart the Bear 2 has followed in the footsteps of the original Bart, becoming an established animal actor and Vital Ground ambassador.
- Windwalker (1981) – Bear
- The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986) – The Cave Bear
- Benji the Hunted (1987) – The Brown Bear
- The Great Outdoors (1988) – The Bald-Headed Bear (Jody)
- The Bear (1988) – The Kodiak Bear
- White Fang (1991) – Bear
- The Giant of Thunder Mountain (1991) – Bear
- Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993) – Bear
- On Deadly Ground (1994) – Bear
- Legends of the Fall (1994) – Bear
- 12 Monkeys (1995) – Bear
- Walking Thunder (1997) – Walking Thunder
- The Edge (1997) – Bear
- Meet the Deedles (1998) – Bear
- Without A Paddle (2004) – Bear
- The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (TV series), multiple episodes (1977–78) – Ben as a cub
- The Gambler: The Adventure Continues (TV movie) (1983) – Bear
- Louis L'Amour's Down the Long Hills (TV Movie) (1986) – The Bear
- Lost in the Barrens (TV movie) (1990) – Bear
- The Young Riders, Season 1, Episode 17, "Decoy" (1990) – Bart
- Les amants de rivière rouge (TV miniseries) (1996) – Bear
- 70th Academy Awards – Presenter (1998)
- National Geographic World, May 1999, cited and quoted by Jordan Carlton Schaul, "Inspired by Late Animal Actor 'Bart the Bear' – Vital Ground Protects Grizzly Bear Habitat", voices.nationalgeographic.com, Oct. 13, 2013, accessed May 15, 2015.
- Prettyman, Brett, "Utah's Bart the Bear: Hollywood star, savior for grizzly habitat", The Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 3, 2014, available online at sltrib.com, accessed Nov. 8, 2015.
- Bart the Bear at Wasatch Rocky Mountain Wildlife (accessed April 7, 2010).
- Rosen, Leah, with Tom Gliatto and Cathy Free, "State of Bruin", People, Oct. 20, 1997, available online at People.com, accessed May 27, 2015.
- Lacher, Irene, with Suzanne Adelson and Cathy Free. "It's a Grizzly Story, but Bart the Filmmaking Bear Is Clawing His Way to the Top." People, Nov. 6, 1989, archived at people.com, accessed May 15, 2015.
- Foy, Paul (19 May 2000). "Bart the Bear, a veteran of several films, dies at 23". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
- "Bart the Bear 2". Wasatch Rocky Mountain Wildlife.
- Turan, Kenneth, "Hopkins, Bart the Bear Give 'The Edge' Its Sharpness" (film review), Los Angeles Times, Sept. 27, 1997, available online at LATimes.com, accessed May 27, 2015.
- Jean-Jacques Annaud, Box Office Mojo, boxofficemojo.com, accessed May 15, 2015.
- Cerone, Daniel. "How to Train an 1,800 Pound Movie Star: What It Takes to Turn a Kodiak Into a Screen Sensation: A Bear's-Eye View of Grizzly Country," Los Angeles Times, Oct. 22, 1989, archived at Latimes.com, accessed May 16, 2015.
- Diamond, Wendy. "Animals and the Academy Awards: A History." Huffington Post, huffingtonpost.com, May 25, 2011, accessed May 15, 2015.
- Academy For Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, "Mike Myers and Bart the Bear at the Oscars" (color film clip of Bart the Bear handing envelope to Mike Myers with help of Doug Seus at 70th Academy Awards in 1998). Youtube.com video, 1:33. Posted by "Oscars" (official channel of the Academy), Aug. 3, 2011, accessed May 16, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehDLFNmpFtM
- "Hollywood Star "Bart the Bear" Launches National "Paws For a Cause" Campaign For Colorado State's Animal Cancer Center" (Press release). Colorado, United States: Colorado State University. Department of Public Relations. May 1, 2000. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
- Oko, Dan. "Bart: Still a Trooper", High Country News (issue 178), May 8, 2000, reprinted online at hcn.org, accessed May 18, 2015.